Dwayne Bowe Doing The Dirty Work For Kansas City Chiefs

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Dwayne Bowe’s numbers have not been what we’ve come to expect of the former first round draft pick and the $56 million man. However, it would seem Bowe is doing a lot more for the Chiefs than just eating up cap space and making blocks on the outside for the running game.

No game better highlights what Bowe has been doing for the Chiefs this season than Sunday’s win over the Buffalo Bills. Bowe caught a season-high eight passes for 93 yards, and most of those catches put the Chiefs in a position to either extend the drive or set up a big play.

Many remember the long touchdown run by Jamaal Charles on the fourth down play that brought the Chiefs to within 13-10 of the Bills. That play may not have happened if Bowe hadn’t caught a 15-yard pass – a pass he had to come back for – to set up the fourth and one situation. If he doesn’t make that play then the brilliant play call that led to the Charles touchdown probably doesn’t happen.

What Bowe has turned into is a possession receiver and first down machine who may not make the big plays he used to make but for the most part doesn’t make the stupid play. Twenty-nine of his 39 receptions this season have gone for first downs, a 74.4% rate. That’s better than Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, He Who Shall Not Be Named (Emmanuel Sanders), and Demaryius Thomas, among others.  In addition to that efficiency, Bowe is one of only six wide receivers that has played at least 50% of his team’s snaps and has been targeted at least 50 times and has not allowed his defender to intercept a pass intended for him (Dez Bryant, for example, has allowed five interceptions). Finally, his 70.9% catch rate is tied for 13th best amongst all wide receivers who have played 50% of their team’s snaps.

The game against the Bills was the perfect example of a time where there was no room to run and extending drives was going to be difficult.

In the eight drives before the Charles 39-yard touchdown run, the Chiefs had six drives of five plays or less. KC had one drive prior to the to the Charles touchdown that lasted 10 plays, Bowe had two first down catches in that drive.

In the drive that ended with Charles’ touchdown run, Bowe was critical. Four of his eight receptions came on that drive and all of them were significant plays. Bowe caught two first downs, added another catch that set up a 2nd and one situation, and caught a 3rd and 16 pass for 15 yards that set up the 4th and touchdown for Charles.

To sum up Bowe’s eight catches: four first downs, a catch that set up a second and one, and a catch that set up the fourth and one touchdown play, two catches that did not impact the game outside of field position. Take Bowe out of this game and where would the Chiefs have been on offense?

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People may point to his lack of touchdowns (zero this season) and big plays (longest reception is 33 yards) plus his massive contract. There are a couple of easy responses to these criticisms. Something to consider: If Smith’s weakness is throwing the ball down field and the offensive line cannot block long enough to attempt many passes down field then why should we expect Bowe to have Jordy Nelson-like numbers?

Further, the Chiefs get most of their scores by driving to the red zone. Their best red zone matchups involve Travis Kelce and Anthony Fasano against linebacker, Knile Davis plowing up the middle, and Jamaal Charles in any situation. This significantly reduces the amount of red zone targets Bowe would receive while also being defended by the opponent’s best cover corner. If Alex Smith throws an interception to Richard Sherman this week trying to get a touchdown for Bowe instead of getting the ball to Charles, how upset are you going to be?

Take Bowe off the team and the Chiefs have zero reliable receivers on the outside. Zero. This, more than any other reason, is why John Dorsey gave him a massive contract before the 2013 season. Essentially the Chiefs are paying Bowe $20 million in guaranteed money for the right to not be stuck with Avery and Hemingway as their starting outside receivers.

Yes, the Chiefs do need a lot of help on the outside. Dorsey went hard after Sanders and fell short of signing him. They took a look at DeSean Jackson but didn’t have the cap room to make the deal and still have money to sign Alex Smith, Justin Houston, and Dontari Poe long-term.  And they’ve been stuck without at second round pick the last two years, a round in which Dorsey historically has targeted wide receivers. One would expect the Chiefs to figure out the wide receiver position this offseason.

Until then, the role Bowe plays in the offense is vital towards keep the Chiefs offense’s head above water. It’s not pretty doing to the dirty work but someone has to do it. Maybe next season with some reinforcements at wide receiver the “Bowe Show” will return.